Resist the Urge

Their first child was stillborn.  Not long after grieving the death of their baby, this couple learned the would-be mother was battling cancer.  With courage, strength and the support of her spouse, she beat the disease.  Several years later, she conceived and gave birth to their second child who was born full of the possibilities babies bring to our world.

Less than six months after the birth, her cancer returned with a vengeance.  She was given a short time to live.

Her body was weak and her spirit was slowly being defeated. She entered hospice where she intended to spend her remaining days being cared for and comforted by a team of specialized health care workers.

A benefit was held in her honor to help offset the cost of care.  I was touched and moved by the hundreds of people who showed up to donate time and money and demonstrate their support for the family.  Generous gestures of love and contribution were inspiring.

I spoke with many at the benefit and nearly every conversation centered around sorrow for a family whose pain was visible and raw; or focused on perspectives of gratitude, comparing our problems weren’t nearly as critical.

I left the benefit feeling blessed by the gifts of health and prosperity in my life.  I was grateful for more time with my son and  I was proud of the small community who rallied to make the benefit a financial success.  I felt connected to something bigger than myself, but something didn’t sit right with me that night. I recently sorted out why…

The gratitude for the blessings of “good” in my life were nothing more than fear, a dreadful trick of my ego.  My gratitude was as much about my blessings as it was relief that her life wasn’t mine.  I mean no disrespect for the sick or suffering, but I am being bold in my statement that your worries (and mine) are no less important because they aren’t as noticeable or dire.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when, no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to work out right.  But just because life is not visibly or immediately threatened, doesn’t mean problems and issues shouldn’t be spoken or shared.  Our lives are terminal, too, and when we withhold the unspoken truth that lies heavy in our heart, we minimize our strife; and therefore minimize our worth.

We are all important. We all have value.  What touches one, touches all.

Share your pain, your sadness, your struggles.   Share your joy, your laughter, your happiness.  Share your life, but resist the urge to compare your life to another — you have no idea what their journey is about.  Even when the comparative outcome or emotional response is compassion or gratitude, comparing your life to another is a fancy way to disguise judgment.  Inside of judgment, somebody always loses.

The woman with cancer died, but she left behind a legacy of riches for her baby and the world.  She died having lived a short, but full life.  She experienced the wide range of human emotional conditions — from giving life to greeting death.

She knew love. She knew honor. She was beautiful. She was blessed.

Her life is no different than yours or mine.

2 thoughts on “Resist the Urge

  1. Sam you have put into words so gracefully what I could not have said better. It is always easier to pass judgement or compare than to have compasion for what you do not understand.
    Thanks sister/friend

  2. What a challenge it is, to not compare lives. It seems like such a natural thing to do. In the last several years, I’ve learned not to compare. This has not been a major problem for me in the past, except in certain circumstances that have taken me by surprise, as in “Oh. I thought that thing wouldn’t bother me…wow. I guess it does. What now?”

    We all will have our burdens, and they will be heavier than we can carry alone. Other than just as a natural observance of the wierd situations of life, comparing our own lives to others probably serves no real purpose – or, maybe we can learn from others’ situations. Maybe we can be more grateful for our blessings. That may be about it. Our time will come when we have to endure hardships and will need others to help us. Things to think about!

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